Jesus is alive. There really is no other way to account for the disciples dramatic change from those who would abandon Jesus to those who willingly gave their lives for him. There is no other way to account historically for the spread of the church through the centuries. Let me say it again. Jesus is alive. How awesome is that!
No doubt you’ve heard wonderful sermons on the resurrection of Jesus and what that means for his followers. Hopefully, you’ve also had the opportunity to look into the historical evidence surrounding the resurrection and found how Christian faith is certainly not blind faith. But, what the focus of these thoughts here is back on the disciples. I am astounded when I read Peter’s fear before a servant-girl one night, and the dramatic difference we see in Peter by the time we read of him in Acts. He wouldn’t take a risk for Jesus on the night he was arrested. He wanted to save his own skin. But, something changed for him. What accounted for this change? Resurrection.
Peter goes from denying the faith to dying for the faith. He goes from a rather scared disciple to a bold follower of Christ. He takes risks. He proclaims Jesus’ name when explicitly told not to (Acts 4). He even considers being beaten for the gospel a blessing! That’s crazy. How did this happen? Jesus was raised from the dead.
See, Jesus resurrection didn’t just promise the disciples a happy place upon death. Jesus’ resurrection proclaimed in bold fashion God’s end-of-the-world kingdom had arrived in the present. Jesus’ resurrection had inaugurated the new heavens and new earth being a first-fruit of what God will do finally at the end of time (1 Cor. 15). Jesus’ resurrection gave the disciples boldness because Jesus’ resurrection proved his ruler-ship over all the universe. Even death, the supposed final enemy, obeys Jesus’ will! So, if everything obeys Jesus (demons, sickness, nature, people, death, etc.), what do the disciples have to fear? Nothing. That’s why Paul rejoices in his suffering (Phil. 3). That’s why Peter is thankful for the beating he endured (Acts 4). That’s why James considers persecution and troubles joy (James 1). Jesus is alive, and his sovereignty includes everything.
There is a direct connection between Jesus’ resurrection and our risk. Yet, risk is a poor word because risk assumes possible loss. There is no possible loss following Christ. The worst that could happen for a Christian is losing their life, yet Jesus already said something about that issue (Mt. 10:28). Death, then, would even be gain. That is amazing. The resurrection removes risk, so we can boldly go into the dark world and be light. We know that the light not only can win, but has already won! Jesus is alive.
Let me give a personal example. Last week we returned from our senior trip. I attended the senior trip as a counselor. On this senior trip there was a challenge course that included a suspended rope bridge over a canyon. I walked across that bridge for the second time (I had been to this place before). I was able to walk across that bridge with some degree of boldness because I knew there were no risks. The cables that I was attached to above me was not going to let me fall. The rope I walked across could hold up far, far more weight than a single person (one guy even said it could hold a helicopter). It looked scary. But, again, the risk was gone.
The resurrection is like that rope that runs above the bridge walker. You are not going to fall. Yes, it may look scary. The world is a dangerous place. Relationships are tricky. Work, family and life all have their fair share of pain and hurt. Carrying the truth of Christ’s resurrection into all those hostile places is intimidating, but much like that bridge, the risk is removed. You are fully protected and provided for because Jesus is alive. We who are Christians are in Him, and being in Him means we not only have already died, but we’ve already passed into new life. Our impending death will not be a stoppage of existence but a doorway into true deliverance.
The early disciples took great risks because Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus being alive changed everything for them. I’ve still got a billion miles to go before I would consider myself a “risky” person. Yet, my sincere hope is that I’ll move out of my safety (which is actually an illusion) and onto the high wire. If my greatest enemy has been defeated (death) by Jesus, and I’m in Jesus, what do I have to fear?